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A Betting Guide to the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I horse race that is run annually in Louisville, Kentucky. The race usually takes place on the first Saturday of May and is the first in the Triple Crown series, before the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The Kentucky Derby is run on a 1.25 mile dirt track and it is known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” due to the approximate time it takes for horses to complete the race.

The contest is open to all horses, though there are handicap conditions to make the race more balanced; colts and geldings should carry 126 pounds (57kg) and fillies 121 pounds (55kgs).

The Kentucky Derby was listed in 2015 as the joint second top Grade I race with Whitney Handicap, behind only the Breeders Cup Races. However, the Kentucky Derby has the highest attendance of all the stakes races in North America. In 2015, the Derby set the record for the largest attendance in the US with over 170,000 people coming to watch the race. In that race the record for betting was also broken, with over $137.9 million placed. To reflect the size of the event, the Kentucky Derby also has one of the highest purses, $3 million.

The first edition of the race took place in 1875 and this makes the Derby the oldest continuously held sporting event in the US.

The History of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby was created by Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr, the grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. After he travelled to England and France and saw some of the racing events and clubs that were operating in the two countries, he decided to try and build a racing ground and club in his native Kentucky.

After receiving land from John and Henry Churchill, after whom the track would be named "Churchill Downs'', he was able to build the facilities needed to initiate the event. The first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875 at a distance of 1.5 miles in front of a crowd of 10,000. A colt called Aristides won the inaugural event.

In 1896, the Kentucky Derby was changed from being a 1.5 mile race to a 1.25 mile race.

The race grew in success along with the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, due to the large purses in each event. Winning all three awards a horse the Triple Crown, and the first to do so was Sir Barton in 1919. However, it was not until 1930 when the term Triple Crown was used, and it was not until 1950 when the first Triple Crown Trophy was commissioned. Despite this, the eight horses that won the Triple Crown before 1950 were awarded retroactive Triple Crowns in the consequent years in reverse order.

The event continued to draw larger crowds over the years, in part due to its grandiose and traditions. The mint julep is the signature iced drink of the Derby, consisting of bourbon, mint and syrup. The event is attended by men and women, and the women usually wear extravagant hats and elegant outfits.

The Kentucky Derby is appealing to all, and over the years there have been a number of celebrities who have come to watch the race. Celebrities from film, music, sports, politics, fashion, corporate and publishing have all attended. There have been some notorious celebrities who have found their way to the Derby, legend has it that bank and train robber Frank Hames, the brother of Jesse, was at the 1889 Derby.

British Royalty have also attended the race on four different occasions, in 1930 Edward George Villiers Stanley, the 17th Earl of Derby, from whose name the term “Derby” came attended the race. In 1951 the disgraced Duke of Windsor who denounced the throne in 1936 came to the event. In 1974, for the 100th race in the Kentucky Derby's history, Princess Margaret came with her husband Lord Snowden. Most recently, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended the event in 2007.

Kentucky Derby Winners and Records

Speed Record

The record for the fastest time was set by Secretariat in 1973 at 1:59.4. Those who remember watching Secretariat in that year will never forget the pure energy of the "Tremendous Machine" and how he captivated an entire nation. Secretariat's record stands unbeaten to this day.

The speed record set for the original length of 1.5 miles was set by Spokane in 1889 at 2:34.5, the race that Frank James was at.

Biggest Margin

The record for the biggest margin is 8 lengths, a record that was set by Old Rosebud in 1914, and then tied by Johnstown in 1939, Whirlaway in 1941 and Assault in 1946.

Most Wins by a Jockey

Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack both tie for the most wins by a jockey with five each. Eddie Arcaro won the Derby in 1938, 1941, 1945, 1948 and 1952, winning the Triple Crown in 1941 with Whirlaway and 1948 with Citation. Bill Hartack won the Derby in 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964 and 1969, though he never won the Triple Crown.

John Velazquez has the most wins for a still active jockey with wins in 2011, 2017, 2020 and 2021, though he has not managed to win a Triple Crown to date.

Most Wins by a Trainer

Bob Baffert holds the record for the most wins by a trainer with seven. He won the Derby in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2015, 2018, 2020 and 2021, winning the Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah and in 2018 with Justify.

Following him, Ben A. Jones has won the race six times as a trainer, in 1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949 and 1952, winning the Triple Crown in 1941 with Whirlaway and in 1948 with Citation.

Most Wins by an Owner

Calumet Farm has the most wins by an owner, and most of their success was shared with trainer Ben A. Jones. They won the Kentucky Derby in 1941, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1957, 1958 and 1968, winning the Triple Crown in 1941 with Whirlaway and in 1948 with Citation.

Longest Shot

Donerail won the race in 1913 setting a record for the biggest longshot victory in the Kentucky Derby. The betting odds on Donerail were 91-1. The thoroughbred was not going to enter the race on the day but in the end owner Thomas P. Haynes started him in post 5. Donerail won the race by a neck, and this not only set the record for longest shot, but it was also only the second time in the history of the Derby that the same person bred, trained and owned the winning horse.

How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby remains to this day one of the most popular and top rated horse races. The first race in the Triple Crown, it is one of the most important races in each season. To increase the excitement you will be able to find bets with generous odds here at, where we offer a number of markets.

When it comes to horse racing, there are a number of betting options. You can place a bet on whether a horse will win or place. The place bet is on whether the horse will finish in first place or second bet, reducing the risk but it also comes with lower odds than placing a bet on which horse will win. There is also an each-way bet whereby you can place a bet on whether a horse will win the race, but also receive a portion of your winnings if the horse were to finish in second place.

When it comes to horse race betting, there are many factors that come into play. To make a calculated bet, there are plenty of different conditions that can be researched such as how each horse has fared in their previous races, whether the horse has experience in the Kentucky Derby, the form of the jockey, the weather conditions, whether the horse prefers to run on dirt or not and many more. These factors can help optimise your betting strategy. That being said, many fans simply want to place bets on their favourite horses or the most popular horses going into the race.

When betting on horse races, it is important to only use money that you can spare to lose. There are organisations such as where you can find more information on responsible gambling and how you can ensure it remains fun at all times.


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